Concealed handguns should not be banned in classrooms at the University of Texas at Austin, according to a recommendation from a campus-carry panel at the school.
In a report released Thursday by the Campus Carry Policy Working Group, the panel said it was reluctantly recommending against designating classrooms as “gun-exclusion” areas.
“The working group is aware of, and sympathetic to, the overwhelming sentiment on campus that concealed carry should not be permitted in classrooms,” notes the report, which offers recommendations to university President Gregory L. Fenves for implementing the state’s new campus-carry law. “Every member of the working group — including those who are gun owners and license holders — thinks it would be best if guns were not allowed in classrooms.
“Nevertheless, the working group does not recommend that classrooms should be designated a gun-exclusion zone.”
Because attending class is the “primary on-campus activity” for most UT students, banning handguns in the classroom would essentially mean that license holders couldn’t carry their firearms, the report explains. That would be a violation of the law, which is set to go into effect in August.
“The only possible way to avoid this result would be for the university to provide gun lockers at strategic points around campus,” the report says. “We believe that this would be extremely ill-advised for several reasons.”
The university has been working to figure out how it will implement the new law since Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed it in June. A press release on the working group’s recommendations notes that hundreds of people attended public forums on the matter, and more than 3,000 survey responses poured in online.
Earlier this year, a professor emeritus announced that he wouldn’t be teaching at UT in 2016 or 2017, and cited the campus-carry law in his letter of explanation.
“The working group is keenly aware of the sentiment on campus,” Steven Goode, a law professor who chaired the panel, said in a campus message announcing the release of the report. “We strived to forge recommendations that will promote safety on campus in a way that complies with the law.”
The 19-member working group spent three months developing its recommendations, which also include:
• “Generally” prohibiting concealed handguns in residence halls on the campus. (There were some exceptions. For example, the group recommended that a parent can bring a gun to a dorm during a visit.)
• Employees who have single-occupant offices can decide whether they want to prohibit concealed firearms.
• Concealed guns won’t be allowed in health centers and in some laboratories.
“I thank Professor Goode and the working group for their hard work, thorough review and commitment to developing recommendations that consider UT Austin’s specific needs. I will study the report closely and decide on our policy in the near future,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves says in the release.
According to the university, Fenves will use the recommendations to develop final rules for campus carry, which he will send to the University of Texas System and report to the legislature. The campus carry law gives university presidents the authority to develop campus-specific rules, although UT System regents can amend or reject them with a two-thirds vote, the school said.
You can read the full report here:
[This post has been updated to restore attribution of a block quote.]